The Center for the Study of Race and Democracy was founded by Dr. Peniel E. Joseph in the fall of 2015 with the mission of promoting engaged research and scholarship focused on the ways in which issues of race, democracy, and public policy impact the lives of global citizens. To enact its mission, the Center launched several research projects that investigate these issues at the institutional, local, state, and national levels.
Last year, the CSRD Director and affiliated graduate students began the first stage of recording oral histories of Precursor's and interviewing students on campus about race relations, integration, and racial inequality today. CSRD Student Fellows (undergraduate and graduate students) will continue to conduct research on campus and in the community to share these and more stories.
Civil Rights in Burnt Orange, one of the Center’s institutional projects, highlights the historical intersections of race, democracy, and policy on UT’s campus by collecting oral histories from current UT students as well as the Precursors, the first class of undergraduate African American students to enroll at UT. The inaugural year of the Center, 2016, also fell on the 60th anniversary of the Precursor’s first year as Longhorns when they enrolled in 1956. Facing extreme personal and institutional racial discrimination, some of the Precursors had not returned to UT’s campus until their stories were collected and recognized by the Civil Rights in Burnt Orange research project, and through a book released last year, entitled As We Saw It by Dr. Gregory Vincent, Virginia A. Cumberbatch, and Leslie Blair. Student research assistants involved in the project collected oral histories from the Precursors and current UT students, and assembled a short film about their reflections on racial integration at UT in the late 1950s.
Photo credit: Jacky Tovar, Daily Texan.
Today, as policy and political rhetoric carries severe consequences for racial divisions, and even racial violence, this project carries great significance for understanding the experiences of historically racially marginalized students on UT’s campus so that we can learn lessons for the present.
THE IMPACT OF YOUR SUPPORT
Your support will sustain the research of Civil Rights in Burnt Orange and events that spotlight the stories of racial integration and discrimination on UT’s campus. Sharing these stories from the past and present determines how we move forward together through discussions on race, racial inclusion, and ongoing racial marginalization within our campus community.
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Celebrate the year 1956 when the Precursors first started at UT.